Bus and coach industry trade magazine routeONE is reporting (23 August) that the Confederation of Passenger Transport UK (CPT) has commissioned a London coach study, focusing on “the major areas where coaches have a pivotal function such as tourism, commuter services, scheduled express services and home-to-school”.
CPT says: “Recognising the importance of London as a destination and the significant part coaches play in supporting the capital’s economy, CPT has commissioned a study of the London coach tourism sector as an integral part of London’s transport network. Against a background of the ever greater challenges to improve the environment and keep London moving, the aim is to provide a definitive picture of the contribution the industry can make towards these goals and demonstrate the positive aspects which, on occasions, have been overlooked.”
The findings are expected to be published in the autumn.
Details have yet to be announced explaining how this new study links in with the London Tourist Coach Action Plan, the joint initiative introduced in 2014 between Transport for London and CPT that aims to find solutions to the challenges faced by coach operators working in the Capital.
The National Coach Tourism Awards (NCTA), the leading national awards scheme for the coach tourism industry, has been relaunched as the British Coach Tourism Awards (BCTA).
Organiser Diversified Communications has also taken the opportunity to introduce a new brand identity as it moves to fully integrate the awards with the British Tourism & Travel Show.
The renaming and rebranding completes a move started in March 2016 when the awards moved from being a stand-alone event to be part of the British Tourism & Travel Show.
The renaming and rebranding was announced this week as the search begins for the winners of the British Coach Tourism Awards 2017.
Entries are now being invited for 18 awards. The closing date for entries is 6 January with a list of finalists due to be announced shortly after. The winners will be announced on Wednesday 22 March at the National Motorcycle Museum in Birmingham.
Since launching in 2005, the National Coach Tourism Awards has established itself as a major event in the coach tourism calendar.
Over those years, the awards categories have been finely tuned to give most sectors of the coach tourism industry the opportunity to battle it out with their direct competitors. It is this focus on giving the industry what it needs that has helped to bring continued success, both in terms of the number of entries and in the number of coach tourism professionals attending the presentation evening.
In 2016, organiser Diversified Communications moved the presentation evening to become part of the British Tourism & Travel Show, attracting new involvement from exhibitors and visitors to the two-day trade show. Now, as the search for the 2017 winners is launched, Diversified Communications has relaunched the scheme, introducing a new name and brand identity.
In addition to recognising the best coach tour operators, the focus remains on destinations, visitor attractions and suppliers who can demonstrate a commitment to being ‘coach friendly’.
It’s important to note that the BCTA categories are always ‘…of the Year’ and relate only to the year in question. This ensures a differentiation from the Confederation of Passenger Transport UK’s ‘Coach Friendly Visitor Attraction Status’, and ‘Coach Friendly Towns, Cities and Villages Status’ which is an ongoing recognition.
While many of the award categories for 2017 will be familiar, there are some new awards, and a handful of others have changed.
New for 2017 is the ‘Accessibility Award’, recognising destinations, attractions, hotels and tour operators that can demonstrate a strong policy for accessible travel.
Also new is ‘European Coach Friendly Visitor Attraction of the Year’, separating continental European visitor attractions out from the hitherto combined UK/continental European award. It’s an interesting differential in light of the new ‘British’ focus.
The long-standing ‘Cross-Sea Carrier’ award has been merged with the ‘River and Inland Cruise Operator’ category. In comes the ‘Sea, Canal and Inland Riverboat Carrier of the Year’. It’s a surprising move as these are very different industry sectors. It seem likely then that we may see the likes of Ullswater Steamers and Windermere Lake Cruises in direct competition with DFDS, P&O Ferries and Eurotunnel Le Shuttle.
There’s a similar challenge looming in the accommodation category. The two separate categories for hotel groups and individual hotels have been combined, resulting in a single category for what is a hugely important industry sector. It’s an equally surprising move.
The ‘Coach Monthly Special Award’ has been renamed ‘The British Coach Tourism Recognition Award’. The website indicates that the award will be presented to someone who has made an “extraordinary contribution to the industry”.
But what makes entering the BCTA worthwhile is the reputational benefit to be gained by either being a finalist or winning. These awards have always stood out from others because of the way in which the organisers supply finalists and winners with PR support.
The BCTA is the only national awards scheme that specifically focuses on coach tourism. But winning an award, or being a finalist is only part of the story. What really matters is the business benefit that follows as a result.
From Saturday 3 September, Leeds will have a new visitor attraction when the ‘Emmerdale Studio Experience’ opens its doors for the first time.
Situated in the programme’s former studio on Burley Road in Leeds, a short distance from the city centre, the brand new experience will take groups on a journey to show how Emmerdale’s characters and stories are brought to life so sensationally for the screen. The attraction says the ‘Emmerdale Studio Experience’ “will give groups the opportunity to become part of the drama and discover the magic that lies at the heart of ITV’s iconic television series”.
Fully guided tours will shine a light on the production process and reveal how everything fits together. With full-scale set reconstructions, preserved props and costumes, to the secrets behind stunts and special effects, this is a rare chance to step behind the camera and into the exciting world of telly.
Groups will experience the much-loved surroundings of the Dingles, Bernice’s Salon, Smithy Cottage and The Woolpack sets, hear fascinating facts on some of the soap’s biggest storylines, and get the gossip and stories from the studio floor as a guide takes them on a unique tour.
A spectacularly crafted quarter-size replica ‘model’ village’ sits at the heart of the attraction where sculpted rows of ‘stone clad’ cottages, Bob’s café, David’s shop and The Woolpack nestle together illustrating the warmth of village life. Plus, groups have the chance to tread the boards behind The Woolpack bar for a photograph – the ultimate souvenir for any Emmerdale fan.
The visitor experience is being operated by Continuum Attractions in partnership with ITV, a relationship that generated unprecedented demand for the seasonal Emmerdale village tours to the exterior filming set north of Leeds, and the success of ‘Coronation Street The Tour’ in Manchester before it closed at the end of last year.
The Emmerdale Studio Experience tours will run seven days a week from 10am to 5pm. Rates for groups of 15 or more are £18.75 for adults, and £17.75 for concessions and children.
It’s understood that a typical visit will last between one and a half and two hours.
‘Coronation Street On Tour’ opens at the SECC in Glasgow on 27 August and runs until 1 January. It is then due to transfer to Belfast, subject to planning permission. Visitors will be able to see a purpose-built inflatable show dome featuring authentic sets and preserved memorabilia in what Continuum Attractions describes as “a compelling and extraordinary environment”.
Continuum Attractions owns, operates and manages the following cultural attractions across the UK:
What are people saying about the British Airways i360 in Brighton?
The world’s tallest moving observation tower, the British Airways i360, opened in Brighton on Thursday 4 August. Here’s an early snapshot of opinion.
Teresa Machan, writing in The Telegraph, says:
“At three times the height of Nelson’s column, many who look up at the i360 from the seafront promenade comment that it is too high to contemplate riding in. “I must admit I had the jitters,” said one rider, today. “But because the glass curves away you really don’t notice how high you are.”
Or that you’re moving. Our launch was so smooth that it is was only once the beach began dropping away that I realised the pod (an oblate ellipsoid to give it its technical name) was in motion and that our gentle, gradual ascent had begun. This was not a thrill ride – even in today’s inclement gusts. The tower’s cantilever design, we were told, is designed to withstand typical Brighton wind conditions.
First at our feet is Hove’s promenade with its grand, sea-facing Regency squares, the 1884 seafront bandstand and the rectangular expanse of Hove Lawns, where Victorian ladies would parade in bouffant skirts. Brighton’s rooftops trip cheek-by-jowl up the city’s gently sloping landscape towards the great iron canopy of the railway station.
The relatively low-rise domed turrets of Brighton Royal Pavilion are just about visible, and I was pleased to spot unmistakable red-pink façade of the Lion and Lobster pub – another popular Brighton institution.
At around 50 metres the rolling hinterland of the South Downs National Park begins to unfold. I could see as far as Worthing Pier to the west, and east, to Beachy Head. At 162 metres the chalky cliff is exactly the same height as the i360.
On a good day you can apparently see St Boniface Down on the Isle of Wight. “And there’s a white building in the distance that we think is Butlin’s Bognor Regis,” said someone from the i360 team. Binoculars may come in handy.”
“From the top – on a clear day – you can apparently see the tip of the Isle of Wight, 40 miles away. No such luck on my visit. On the hazy afternoon of my 20-minute “flight”, the sparkling white cliffs of the Seven Sisters were a dull grey smudge in the distance, while the rolling Sussex Downs dissolved into a blur. But even on a dull day, the city unfolds beneath you in surprising ways. Brighton’s steeply sloping topography becomes ever more apparent as you glide upwards, as does the pattern of buttery Regency terraces, framing squares that open on to the waterfront to capitalise on views of the sea. The merry hotchpotch of the seafront’s bandstands, paddling pools and beach volleyball courts then slowly flattens out into a train-set landscape, until the Palace Pier is reduced to nothing but a spindly finger of twinkling lights.
The experience is similar to a tethered hot-air balloon ride, the kind that used to entertain Victorian crowds at the nearby St Ann’s Well Gardens in Hove – except you’re trapped inside a glass capsule, cut off from the sounds and smells of the seaside. With the view partly distorted by ripples and reflections in the double-curved glazing (which might prove more of an issue at night, when the accompanying cocktail bar glows into action), it can make you wish for the simpler age of balloons and baskets, and for a gulp of fresh air. To opponents, it may still be the iSore, a Chernobyl chimney despoiling the beach. It could have been designed to feel less like a corporate entertainment lounge on a stick. But by night, when it glows like a sword plunging down from the heavens, it is hard to resist.”
Martin Slater, National Sales Manager with Greatdays Travel Group, says:
I felt privileged to be invited to the pre-launch of the British Airways i360 on Tuesday 3 August. This is simply a combination of exceptional engineering technology and architectural design. Located on Brighton beach, where the once famous Victorian pier stood, it was then said you can experience walking on water. With the British Airways i360 you have the opportunity to experience walking on air! The pod will elevate up to 200 people to a height of 138 metres (453 feet), while simultaneously providing an observation platform giving passengers unimpeded views and the freedom to stroll around or sit whilst taking in the unfolding views. The attraction is ideal for the leisure, incentive or educational market.